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INTERVIEW: Moosa Raza
‘We want to arouse the consciousness’ 

Moosa Raza
He has always been admired by his fellow officials in the prestigious Indian Administrative Services (IAS). The man who served as principal secretary to the chief minister of Gujarat and chief secretary of Jammu & Kashmir government and as an advisor to the UP governor and went on to retire from the government as secretary to the government of India having served the cabinet secretariat and the ministry of steel has a number of achievements up to his sleeves. Though retirement seems to be the end of most people's active life, but the man in point emerged in a new avatar.

Moosa Raza received a number of offers from different quarters including offers for gubernatorial job in a state, coveted vice chancellor-ship of the AMU and Jamia Millia Islamia and also invitations from several political parties to join them. All these offers were turned down. His friends coerced him to give a second look at these offers, but the man didn't budge.

After his retirement in 1995 he took over as the director general of the grand project of India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC). The project was doomed to fail as nothing had practically been done with the project whose foundation was laid down by the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi way back in 1984. But within five years after he took over the project, the grand building with a constructed area of over 55000 sq. ft. is complete. He is the chairman of a fortnightly English Magazine Nation & the world and runs an IT institute SIMTECH in the Capital. He is also in the process of chalking out a plan to set up a University of Science, Technology & Management near Delhi. He heads a number of other trusts and institutions, besides running a consultancy firm MOVE. Raza has written a widely read book, Of Nawabs and Nightingales and is also a prolific poet, a fact that very few people know.

Recently he was elected chairman of the prestigious Muslim body, Movement for the Empowerment of Muslims in India (MOEMIN). The body set up more than two years ago with great hope was mired in controversies for around a year. The internal bickering had spelled doom for the body that was set up for the social, educational and economic development of the Muslims in the country. With his appointment it seems that the body will again be put on tracks. S Ubaidur Rahman of the MG interviewed him recently. Excerpts:

 

How do you plan to put the MOEMIN back on tracks?
MOEMIN was conceived as a platform to take up issues and problems that confront the Muslim community and to strive to inculcate in the community and in everyone of its institutions the pursuit of excellence. We want to take up in right earnest the educational backwardness of Muslim community, their economic deprivation, their low position in government and public sector companies, their minimal presence in government offices and low funding they receive from the banks. We also want to take up with all the political organizations with secular credentials for Muslims' due representation in the these parties. The first step in this regard is to make Muslims aware of their position in the country and their right in the rightful share in it. We have been working in the same direction.

We have organized several state conventions in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhara Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. We have organized even a number of district level conferences in Tamil Nadu and Andhara Pradesh. But we have not been very successful in Northern states. Now we want to focus states with large Muslim presence like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. We want to organize conventions in these two states and introduce the MOEMIN here.

What are your priorities?
Our first priority will be education. We have done lot of things in this fields specially in Tamil Nadu and Andhara Pradesh. We now want to take up UP and Bihar as these are the most backward states. We want to take up educational and economic development of the community in these two states. We also want to liaise with central and state governments so that Muslims get rightful representation in government offices. We are also planning to talk to the political parties for that.

How will you liase with political parties?
We are an apolitical forum. We will not join politics. We have a number of our members in different political parties. Be it Samajwadi party, Congress, Muslim League or the National Conference, our members are in all these parties and in senior positions. So we will talk to these parties for proper representation of Muslims in these political parties. We don't want to be in politics we want to arouse the consciousness of Muslims and conscience of political parties.

What do you plan to do in the field of education?
Muslims are educationally most backward community in the country. In the last four decades male literacy rate has gone up three times and the female rate has gone up by five times. Muslims have been left far behind in the educational filed compared to other communities. They are 10 percentage points behind in the national average, while the gap in the female literacy rate is even wider. Even more alarming is the fact that the enrolment rate has been progressively declining for Muslim children. Currently it stands at 62 percent, 16 percent behind their other compatriots.

It all needs to be corrected. We believe that sound educational empowerment is the key to all-round promotion of the community's future in every field. It will have a major bearing on all the other prioritized facets of empowerment. Our basic goal is that every child gets best possible primary education along with the requisite religious instructions. At all times, and at every stage the content and quality of the education should be of the highest order and as the stage advances, its style and orientation to employment and professional opportunities. We are planning to set up a Minorities Educational Upliftment Board. It will be a high powered body whose members will be distinguished academicians, administrators, management, professional and technology experts with long experience. Board will be a major instrumentality to ensure that Muslim educational institutions always retain a reputation for excellence for Muslims.

You are involved in a number of activities. So how do you manage all these?
This is millat's work. I don't want either name or fame. I would have gone for some gubernatorial job as I was offered when I retired from the government or vice chancellor-ship of some university, but I did not take any of these as these would have hindered my activities. These were jobs that anyone would have filled in. But what I am doing now would have remained unfulfilled. It had to be done. And I am trying to do a job that could help the community.

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